As many as 11 people, 10 of whom were senior citizens, lost their lives in the fire that broke out at Sunrise Hospital, Bhandup west, in the intervening night of Thursday and Friday. The deceased have been identified as, Nisar Javed Chand, 74, Ravindra Mungekar, 66, Govind Lal Das, 80, Manjula Bhatharia, 65, Ambaji Patil, 65, Sunandabai Ambaji Patil, 58, Sudhir Sakharam Lad, 66, Harish Karmchand Sachdev, 68, Shyam Baktilal, 77, Mahadev Shankar Aiyyar, 79, and Ashok Waghmare, 68.
According to officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) present at the location, two victims had died of Covid-19 and nine victims suffocated in the blaze. Firefighting operations went on for 20 hours straight and the MFB was able to douse the fire only by 8pm on Friday.
Officials said that the fire is believed to have originated in the electrical ducts between the first and second floor. While MFB officials said that the actual cause of fire was yet to be ascertained, eyewitnesses said that the fire might have been caused due to an oxygen cylinder blast.
The hospital was on the third floor of the Dreams mall, a ground plus three structure. On the first two floors, there were shops and eateries. Civic officials said that in view of the pandemic breakout, the hospital had been given permission to operate last year. It had one OPD unit along with a special section for Covid-19 patients equipped with oxygen beds and ventilators.
More than 250 retail shops inside the malls were gutted along with the hospital.
The incident was reported around 11.55pm on Thursday night. Initially, the fire was dubbed ‘Level – 1’ (L-1), in less than hour, at 12.45am this was escalated to L-3 and in the following hour, at 1.45am, the fire was an L-4. MFB officials said on Friday that the fire had broken out on the first floor of the building, eventually spreading to the other two floors.
After the fire broke out, the hospital management issued a statement online statement that there had been no deaths in the fire and the two bodies initially retrieved were those of two patients who had died of Covid-19.
However, the BMC and officials of the disaster management cell contradicted their opinion. “Total nine patients had lost their lives in the fire and all of them were on ventilator, the probable cause of their death is asphyxia,” said a senior official of disaster management.
“The fire had spread on all the three floors and due to the heavy smoke, rescue operations became difficult,” said a fire official deployed at the spot.
“As the hospital was on the third floor, many victims had run to the terrace, we evacuated them by using automated ladders,” the official added.
In all, 71 people, including patients and hospital workers were rescued by the fire brigade by using the automated ladders. Afterwards, fire officials conducted a thorough search inside the hospital premises and the bodies were found.
MFB officials said that electric installations, wooden furniture, medicines, gas and oxygen cylinders had helped intensify the fire. In all, 14 fire engines and ten jumbo water tankers were pressed into operation by the MFB.
“Around 11.40pm we heard a loud blast, after which the entire hospital was filled with smoke,” said a hospital worker.
Meanwhile civic officials said of the 78 patients admitted in the hospital, the records of only 46 patients could be traced. “The hospital management was unable to provide us any record of the patients as they didn’t have any back-up and the entire system was burnt,” said a senior civic official.
“We had to retrieve all the data from the BMC main server but could only track the data of 46 patients and we believe that the remaining patients may have either been discharged earlier or have been evacuated, with their records lost in the fire,” the official added.
Of the 46 people rescued, 30 patients were taken to the Mulund Jumbo Covid Care Centre and 22 others were sent back home.
Courtesy – Free Press Journal